Tags / Housing Conditions
Video shot between October 5 and December 10, 2015.
Drone footage showing reconstruction efforts in the Kurdish city of Kobane, on the Syrian border with Turkey. Workers and machinery remove debris in the areas that were destroyed during intense fighting between Kurdish forces and Islamic State militants. In the outskirts of the city, refugee camps were set up for people who fled Raqqa, the capital of the so called Islamic State.
A man smoking with friends in his one room home in Old Havana, combining two of the favorite pass-times in Cuba - socialising and smoking.
More than half of Cuban adults smoke and lung cancer is a major cause of death on the island. The government is working at increasing regulations on advertising and sales of cigarettes and, as of January 2014, smoking has been banned in public places. Time will tell whether or not this new ban will be enforced.
This fish tank belongs to a cobbler who lives and works in this partially collapsed building. In 2011 part of the building collapsed. Fortunately no one was hurt. The residents continue to live in what is left of the very unstable building. Although the residents have been advised to leave the building, they have no where else to go.
An elderly woman in Old Havana reminisces about her younger days. She lives alone in two tiny but immaculate rooms. Like most people in Havana, she is rarely alone for long as her neighbours visit often. Cubans have a great sense of community and are friendly and supportive of each other.
This small room was designed for storage but it is now being used as a communal kitchen for the three families who live on the ground floor of this house.
Gas hobs are frequently left alight all day as gas is subsidised and is cheaper than the cost of matches.
In the home of an elderly lady, Old Havana.
Religious icons and symbols are displayed in the majority of Cuban homes.
Mould and humidity are a problem in most of the houses in Havana. This creates an unhealthy environment that increases the risk of respiratory and skin infections for those that live in these conditions.
Paint never lasts very long because of the humidity in the walls. Most Cubans love and have an instinctive understanding of colour. Although their homes are usually in a very poor state, they are decorated with flair.
Two elderly brothers in their home that is very damp and has a mould issue. Although the house is quite spacious the plumbing is very basic. The brothers were born in this house and have always lived here. Neither brother married and they have no children.
Most homes in Cuba have a Santeria shrine. The walls in this room are marked by a combination of mould and smoke from the almost constantly lit candles.
A staircase that is close to collapse in an Old Havana house.
Neither the government nor the people have the money to repair and care for the buildings and this is the main reason why Havana's Baroque, Neoclassical and Art Deco buildings haven't been modified and the city is of such historical importance. Old Havana is was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. Since this date many buildings have been restored and the work continues but the emphasis is always on preserving key buildings rather than improving or saving the lives of the general population. While certain buildings are done up to a high standard the vast majority of the homes remain in a dangerous state.
“It’s falling down.” This was the answer I invariably received when I asked the residents of Old and Central Havana about their homes.
These photographs originated from my desire to see what it looks like to living inside some of the crumbling grandeur of Havana’s buildings. I knocked on doors and begged for permission to photograph the residents and the interiors of their homes. I photographed inside almost a hundred different homes. Most of the homes I visited are in Old Havana. Old Havana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. Since this date many key buildings have been restored and the work continues but the emphasis is always on preserving buildings rather than improving or saving making the lives of the general population easier. While certain buildings are restored to a higher standard, the vast majority of the homes remain in a dangerous condition.
Age, decay, neglect, over-crowding and amateur repairs combined with natural factors threaten the stability of Havana’s Baroque, Neoclassical and Art Deco buildings. There are two or three partial or total building collapses in Old and Central Havana every week. Residents have no choice but to continue to live in buildings that have partially collapsed.
Despite the condition of the buildings, most of the homes I visited were filled with personal, social, cultural and religious clues about their occupants. Most were also filled with vibrant colours, mementos, belongings, beloved pets and human warmth and spirit.
A man trying to figure out why the electricity isn't working in his apartment. Residents rarely have the means to call in professionals to fix things in their homes. They are forced to use whatever materials they can find to make repairs and they take risks trying to repair electrical malfunctions.
When the young woman who lives in this small appartment moved out from her family home in Guantánamo province, she bought this parrot with her for company. Unfortunately she now has no space in her apartment other than the windowless toilet to keep his cage.
The young woman is working hard buying clothing and accessories from wholesalers and then selling the goods to individuals. She has been able to pay her rent and she is slowly saving some money to take back to her family in Guantánamo province.
Three friends who are sharing a room with one other friend. The two men standing had small roles in a Spanish movie, filmed in Cuba, in the 1990's. They are proud of this and still refer to each other jokingly by they on-screen names. They were well paid but they spent all the money in the months after the filming ended on having a good time.
This man was hit by a car a few years ago and his right leg was badly injured. After years of serious infections, the decision was made to amputate his leg. Whenever he needs to leave his first floor apartment he has to either drag himself down the crumbling staircase or rely on two strong friends to carry him down. He turned to drink to ease his suffering and although he is no longer in pain, he continues to drink heavily. He relies on begging to survive.
The housing conditions are often unbearable: systems are not compliant with current regulations and masonry are deteriorated, but rents do not seem to decrease.